Vision and Planning

An Idea is Only as Good as the Implementation

What is implementation?

im·ple·men·ta·tion /impləmənˈtāSH(ə)n/ (noun)
the process of putting a decision or plan into effect; execution.

As a creative business owner who loves what you do, you are probably inundated with great ideas every day. You probably get them in the shower, as you’re driving, while you’re sweating on the treadmill. But how many of those great ideas do you put into action and see through to fruition?

That’s what I thought. I know, I know, it’s hard! You’re so busy running your business. It’s hard to find the time for something new. A new idea may require you to learn new skills to bring to fruition. It may involve getting help, spending money, investing time.

And new is scary. What if it doesn’t work out? How do you know if its the right idea at the right time?

Of course, there are no guarantees. But think about it. What if Steve Jobs had never moved forward on the iPod? What if Ford never invested in the assembly line? What if John Adams and Thomas Jefferson quit before writing the Declaration of Independence?

What world changing, business revolutionizing, life impacting idea have you set aside because you just don’t have time?

So, how do you, as a ridiculously busy entrepreneur make your ideas a reality?

“It is not always what we know or analyzed before we make a decision that makes it a great decision. It is what we do after we make the decision to implement and execute it that makes it a good decision.”

–William Pollard

Create the Structure for Implementation

idea, action, implementationIf you are not implementing ideas, it is likely because you don’t have an existing system or structure for taking an idea, developing that idea into a plan of action and then implementing that plan. So the seed of the idea floats around for awhile but doesn’t find the fertile ground to settle into and begin to grow.

Put a few simple structures into place and your ideas will have a place to land:

  • Have a notebook (online or a physical notebook) to record your ideas when they come to you.
  • Schedule time in your week – every week – to explore and develop new ideas. Back in the day (they aren’t doing this anymore, I don’t think) Google used to allow their employees to take 20% of their time to work on ideas. You don’t need to spend 20% of your time – but set aside an hour or two every week. It’s the quality and consistency more than the quantity of time that’s important.

Implement One Idea at a Time

I recommend serial monogamy when it comes to projects – 1 project at a time! Too many projects means you won’t effectively deliver on any of them. So pick one idea and for all the rest, keep them in your idea notebook for the future.

So how do you decide which idea to pursue?

  • Remember, you’re jotting down your ideas in your notebook – is there an idea you’ve written down more then once? Is there an idea that keeps popping up, over and over? That might be the first one to go with
  • Maybe go through your list and pick the one that seems most exciting, most shiny to you.
  • All your other ideas, go into the notebook for later. Keep writing them down – but don’t let them distract you.

Once you’ve picked your idea:

You may discover from this process alone that your idea isn’t really going to work. That’s OK – it’s not wasted effort. Because you will have learned a lot – and you may find a way to pivot your idea or this may open up other ideas or clarify ideas you’ve already had. Just pick the next idea and move forward.

Put Your Idea into Action

Once you’ve made the decision that this idea is the one you’re going to move forward on, make a specific schedule in your week for when you will work on it. Get coaching and support and most importantly get into action.

Let me know how you do in the comments!

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Magic of Action Video

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Opportunity Overwhelm

overwhelm to doI recently had a very interesting conversation with a client who called for some in-between-session support.

He called because he was feeling completely stuck.  He was swamped with having so much to do, so many opportunities he could be taking advantage of, and he felt completely overwhelmed. He had no idea how to prioritize all the multiple options of actions he could take.

As a result he was paralyzed and unable to pick any of the multiple possible actions to take or any of the many opportunities to pursue.  And he also felt panicky because he believed he was in danger of missing out on opportunities because of being so totally stuck.

StuckDoes this sound familiar to you?

I know it did to me.  In the past, I’ve gone for weeks feeling completely powerless to take action because I couldn’t figure out which action to take first.

I suggested two solutions to this problem, a short-term right-now band-aid and a long-term more permanent fix.  Hopefully you’ll find them helpful as well.

Short-Term Band-aid

One of my teachers, Johnnie Cass, gave a brilliant bit of advice, which he shared in an off-the-cuff remark during my NLP training.  It’s stayed with me all these years, “When you’re feeling overwhelmed, narrow your focus.” I love that and have used it often — just pay attention to the thing right in front of you.

And that’s usually really helpful, but when you’re overwhelmed by opportunities, how do you pick which opportunity is the right opportunity to focus on right now?

Here are a few re-frames that might help:

Happy Problem

First, when confronted by too many opportunities, take a moment to be grateful.  Too many opportunities is a happy problem!

So much better than too few, no?  So, take a moment, to just breathe in gratitude for the abundance of the Universe!

Clarifying Questions

Great, now that you’re in an appreciative state of mind ask yourself these clarifying questions:

  1.  Which of these opportunities brings me closer to the “right-now” money?
  2. How much time do I have available, today, to take action?

The first question has to do with the low-hanging fruit, the short-term funds that will help you pay the rent immediately.  There’s no shame in pursuing the low hanging fruit, in fact it can be vital to your business’ survival.

My client, though, had a valid concern – what if I’m pursuing “good” and sacrificing “great,”  which is where the second question comes in.  If you only have time today to take one action or pursue one opportunity, because you have other obligations, appointments, etc., then pursue the “right-now” money.

Keeping yourself solvent will empower you to pursue the “great”, visionary and long term opportunities when you have a bit more time.  But in the meantime, you have to eat, right?

If you have more time today – see if you can split it in half – spend half of the time on the low hanging fruit/right-now money opportunities; and half on the longer term opportunities that are more long-term goal oriented. I’d recommend a minimum of 1 hour for each – so if you have less than 2 hours, pick the low-hanging fruit.  (If you find you never have more than an hour, try taking turns alternating between low-hanging fruit and long-term goal oriented opportunities.)

If you have 2 hours or more, pick ONE for each category to pursue within that time frame.  Just pick, flip a coin!  Whatever you choose is going to move you forward and you will learn as long as you take action with an experimental mindset.

But if you can choose with your long-term goals in mind, your choices will be so much easier to make!  And you will be much more likely to choose opportunities that will advance you toward your vision! This leads me to the more permanent fix (which you may want to choose as the long-term goal oriented action…)

The Permanent Fix: A Clear, Specific Vision and Plan to Guide You

Vision Goals Action PyramidPart of what caused the overwhelm for my client was the lack of a clear, specific long-term vision and a plan composed of milepost goals to guide his journey.

Without these strong roots in place, you are very much at the mercy of the winds.

And two things can happen.  First of all, from a Law of Attraction standpoint – you have not placed a clear specific order with the Universe and while it’s doing its level best to send you great opportunities, without clear goals, the opportunities you’re attracting can tend to be pellmell and haphazard.

It’s like going into a restaurant and ordering cow – you just don’t know what you’ll get!

But secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, without a clear vision of where you want to get to, it’s so much harder to evaluate and prioritize the opportunities coming your way.

If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you gauge the effectiveness of one path over another?  How can you decide which are the good opportunities and which is the one great opportunity that will thrust open the doors of success for you?  Even enough to take a guess?

The sooner you design your long-term vision and plan, the easier it will be to switch from overwhelm into overdrive!

The Fundamental Shift in Perspective

Both of these strategies have one thing in common – they shift you from:

Opportunity Focused Reaction —> Goal Centered Response

And you always want to choose being Response-able over being Reaction-ary.  When you can make choices from a grounded, centered and focused place, when you have cleared the noise so you can hear your inner, intuitive voice, you will be able to make powerful choices with ease.

And nothing clears the noise better than a strong vision, specific and measurable goals and a clear plan to achieve both.

Will this guarantee that the opportunity you choose to pursue will be great?  Or even good?  Will it guarantee success?

There are no guarantees – all you can do is make the best decision with the information you have – and having the courage to create your vision and goals will create a lot of clarity to inform your decisions.

Please share with me – what opportunity you will choose to pursue today?  And let me know how it works out – OK? Just leave a comment below.

Oh, and if you’ve been thinking, “Yeah, but…”  Please share your “yeah, buts” with me too!

 

 

 

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How to Use Goals, Actions and Strategies to Craft a Plan

In Part One of this article – Goals and Actions and Strategies – Oh, MY! – I clarified the differences between goals, actions and strategies and talked about why that is a difference that makes a difference.

In this article, I’m going to explain how you can design a plan that employs all three aspects.

In my experience, most people have a focus level that is their comfort zone.  There’s the big picture thinkers and the detail-oriented folks.  Which are you?

Big Picture Thinkers

goals actions strategies vision planning

  • You are a dreamer.
  • You are excited by big goals for the future.
  • You love new ideas and starting new projects, but when you get bogged down, you just go on to start another project.
  • You have little patience for the details – the details seem hard and even boring.
  • You get overwhelmed easily by details
  • You are often unhappily surprised by the outcomes of your big plan, because you forgot a simple detail.
  • You make a lot of big plans, but don’t seem to get very far in executing those plans.  And usually those big plans are very sparse on the details.

You love to fantasize about your big success, but when you look around, you don’t understand why you’re not there yet.

music business coach, success, promotion, marketing, artistsDetail Oriented Folks

  • You love to feel busy.
  • You are constantly thinking in terms of, “What should I do?”
  • Thinking about long term goals feels uncomfortable, even frightening.
  • You’d much rather focus on this email, that paperwork, those phone calls…
  • You have lots of lists and every time you listen to an expert or read a book you add lots of items to those lists.
  • You can tend to over think things and feel the need to get all the details and plans perfect before taking action.

You work really hard all day long, but when you look around, you don’t understand why you feel like you’ve gotten nothing accomplished.

I don’t think either focus level is right/wrong or good/bad.  Actually, in order to be successful in life and in business, you need to be able to pull focus. You need to have some facility with both levels of thinking which will enable you to think big, create useful plans and then implement those plans to take consistent and productive action.

Whether you go from microcosm (the details) to macrocosm (the big picture) or vice versa, when designing your plan doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that:

  1. You create the big picture outcome (goals and vision)
  2. You choose some guidelines for making decisions (strategies)
  3. You develop a step-by-baby-step action plan for accomplishing those outcomes with a specific order and time frame to get you from where you are now to where you intend to be
  4. You implement that plan on a daily basis
  5. Assessing and adjusting as you go

goals, plans, vision action

Start with Your Comfort Zone

The order is less important than doing all 5 parts.  If you’re a big picture thinker, start with the big picture, but don’t stop there!  And if you like the details, but thinking big scares the bejeezus out of you, then start with the details and extrapolate out.  Here’s how:

If You Start with the Big Picture

Close your eyes.  No, wait, read this part first, THEN close your eyes!  OK, think about one year from now.  And as you’re imagining one year from now …

  • What do you see around you?
  • What do you have?
  • Who are you working with?
  • What are you doing?
  • What do you hear?
  • Get specific.

Now, open your eyes and write down everything you saw.  Do it in bullet point form.  Create a brainstormed list of all you want to have and be.

Once you’ve got your list:

  1. Go through and turn each bullet point into a specific, measurable goal with a deadline.
  2. Group those goals together by category (such as fitness and health, business, relationships, etc.).
  3. Within the business category – you can use the 5 Hats of the Business Owner to group your items in more specific categories.
  4. If you see other goals that need to happen in order to create that goal, add them to your list.
  5. Put the goals in the order that makes the most logical sense
  6. Then break out the objectives and action steps for each goal.

You will end up with a specific, step-by-step actionable plan for each goal.

Now if that feels overwhelming, don’t do it for each and every goal.  But do it for the first group of goals that put you on the road to those longer term goals.  What are the goals that need to be accomplished in the next 3-4 months?  Develop a plan for each one of them and then get busy making them happen!

Or You’re Starting with the Details

To do listIf all you think of when asked “What do you want?” is all the stuff to do, all the steps to take, all the different things you’ve been thinking about, “If I only do these things, I’ll be successful.”  Then start there.

Make a big brainstormed list of all the actions, all the steps, all the ideas of actions, all the things people have told you that you have to do.  Make a big list.  Now I recommend doing this in excel, where column A is your long list of stuff to do and each action item is in a separate row.

Now, take that long list and:

  1. In Column B, put the categories of your life each action falls into (such as fitness and health, business, relationships, etc.) and again, you can use the 5 Hats of the Business Owner to break out the work category further.
  2. Then, use the sort function in Excel to sort by category.
  3. Cut and paste the sorted list into a separate worksheet for each category.
  4. One category at a time, ask yourself, which actions go together?  And group them together.
  5. And then ask yourself, if I do these 6 actions that seem to go together (for example) what will I have?  What will that give me?
  6. Write a specific and measurable goal or objective to express that.
  7. Put a deadline on that goal and add start dates and completion dates on each action.
  8. Fill in any actions that are missing in order to create those goals
  9. Think about all those goals together, and create a vision of what that life looks like.

And here too, if creating a full-fledged plan with start and end dates on every action feels overwhelming, just work with the goals for the next 3 months.

StrategyWhere do Strategies fit in?

Strategies, by their very nature, fall into the category of big picture thinking.  Because they apply to everything.  When you choose a strategy, it will effect:

  • How you state your goals
  • Which action items you choose when creating your plan
  • How you implement your plan

For example, if you have a strategy of

Always be learning!

And you apply that to your goal.  It might change:

A CD of toe tapping songs

to

A CD of toe tapping songs with expanded musical influences

Your action plan might include studying Cuban and Jazz music styles in order to help you expand those musical influences.  It might also include taking a songwriting class or studying recording techniques.  It might include participating in a songwriting circle to get ongoing feedback on your writing.

Without that strategy, your goal and your actions might be very different.

So, start with creating a few strategies and test them out.  Apply them to your goals and action plans and see how they change.  And work with them for a few weeks to decide if you like how the strategies are affecting you and whether you want to keep them or change them.

It’s also an interesting question to analyze what strategies are you currently using, unconsciously?  But that’s a subject for another time.

What are your goals, actions and strategies?  I’d love to hear them!

 

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Are Goals Really Necessary?

I was having a conversation with a client the other day.  He’s an engineer and is always working on cutting edge, invention type stuff.  He said that setting goals doesn’t work in this type of  design.  Because when you are inventing something for the first time, you don’t really know what you’re going to end up with.  And that it rarely looks like what you were thinking about inventing when you started out.

I suggested that you had to at least have some general framework of what you were creating.  Even if only in terms of a problem you’re looking to solve, otherwise how could you even begin? I suggested that setting an umbrella goal, a goal that determines the general direction is better than no goal at all.

Create Your Vision, Goals, DreamsAnd if you up with something different than you expected, that’s all good.  It doesn’t invalidate the original goal – you just assessed and adjusted as you proceeded down your path.  That’s step 6 in the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Roadmap to Success!

After we finished our session, I got to wondering about this and thought, perhaps that’s one of the challenges for artists as well.  If you’re sitting down to write a piece of music, do you know what you want to end up with?  Or is discovering the music part of the process, just like discovering a new invention?

And even if you don’t know what you’re going to end up with, don’t you need to start with at least a framework?  In music, don’t you at least start with a key, a mode?  Do you decide the rhythm or B.P.M.?  With a painting, do you start with at least the size of the canvas?  What medium you’re going to use?  The style?

Don’t you have to start with some general idea of what you are creating, even when you are inventing something from scratch?

What Does This Have To Do with Goals?

This process is true with all goals, not just in design but in all areas of your life.  You are inventing something from nothing.  You are bringing choice and direction to your path in the present and creating the vision of your life in the future.  The pursuit of your goals is always an invention of something you didn’t have before.  And you won’t really know what you have until you are there.  Because you don’t know what you don’t know.

Goals are Always a Leap of Faith!

But that doesn’t mean you don’t set Goals, specific and measurable.  As you work through the process of birthing those goals, you will hone and sharpen them, even completely rewrite them.  But if you don’t set specific ones now to the best of your ability, with what you know to be true now, then you won’t get to work bringing those goals into fruition.

So what if it changes as you go?  That neither lessens the validity of the goals you set today nor undermines the life you are creating for your future.  It’s just part of the process.

What are your leaps of faith for 2013?

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How to Implement the Learning

Artists MBA, Foundation ProgramThere is a lot to learn about how to succeed in your business – whether it’s Music, Art, Film, Dance. Here at the Artist’s Marketing & Business Academy, we strive to teach you all that you need to know to create the career of your dreams.

But it’s not enough to simply learn. Knowledge without implementation is worthless. You must put what you learn into action and sometimes it’s hard to see exactly how to do that.

It is not always what we know or analyzed before we make a decision that makes it a great decision. It is what we do after we make the decision to implement and execute it that makes it a good decision.

William Pollard

In this class you’ll discover:

  • How to overcome your blocks to implementation
  • How to prioritize which pieces to build first
  • How to plan your implementation
  • Where to get support for implementation

Joining the Artist’s Marketing & Business Academy was a great decision to learn how to succeed. Now get busy and implement what you are learning into your business!

Listen to the Class:

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Goals and Actions and Strategies – Oh, MY!

I was on the TAXI Forum and I came upon this thread “Post your Goals after attending the Rally” (the yearly conference for TAXI Members). While reading through people’s responses to the question, I noticed that most posts were a combination of goals, actions and strategies, with the posters conflating their intended actions, strategies and goals as if they were all goals.

I believe that this confusion can actually create some of the struggles and road blocks that many of you experience as you pursue your dreams. So, in this article I will explain the difference and why it matters.

In short, the difference is:

  • Actions are WHAT you do
  • Strategies are HOW you do
  • And Goals are WHY you do

Strategies

“Henry Mintzberg from McGill University defined strategy as ‘a pattern in a stream of decisions’.”

“In game theory, a strategy refers to the rules that a player uses to choose between the available actionable options.”
Wikipedia 

So, strategy has to do with:

  • Your methodology
  • How you choose to think about your goals and actions
  • And the underlying principles you use to determine which path to take to achieve your goals

Strategies affect how you prioritize each project in the larger scheme of things as well as which options you choose in your pursuit of your goals.

Actions

“Basic action theory typically describes action as behavior (emphasis added) caused by an agent in a particular situation. The agent’s desires and beliefs (e.g. my wanting a glass of water and believing the clear liquid in the cup in front of me is water) lead to bodily behavior (e.g. reaching over for the glass). In the simple theory (see Donald Davidson), the desire and belief jointly cause the action. Michael Bratman has raised problems for such a view and argued that we should take the concept of intention as basic and not analyzable into beliefs and desires.

In some theories a desire plus a belief about the means of satisfying that desire are always what is behind an action.”
Wikipedia 

Belief, emotional intelligence

 

In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, it is your beliefs about yourself, the universe and your place in the universe, as well as your emotions induced by your beliefs which, at a minimum, color your actions and more likely completely determine which actions or behaviors you choose.

Although these choices are generally occurring in your unconscious mind. These behaviors then lead, seemingly inevitably, to your outcomes.

 

Goals

“A goal is a desired result [snip]. It is roughly similar to purpose or aim, the anticipated result which guides reaction, or an end, which is an object, either a physical object or an abstract object, that has intrinsic value.”
Wikipedia 

 

So, a goal is an outcome, an objective. It is the result you seek. But very often when asked, “What are your goals?” People respond with their actions and strategies. I elaborate on how I design goals with my clients in “Goals and Success”.

So, what does it matter?

Well, if you are only focused on WHAT to do, without a clear picture of the PURPOSE, it is very easy to become confused, discouraged and even completely derailed.

If you don’t know WHY you are taking these actions, if it gets hard to take the actions or they don’t work out they way you think they will, then you may give up entirely.

But when you are clear about your objective, your WHY, then if one action doesn’t get you there, you simply find another way. You think about your strategies. You brainstorm your options. You ask for help and advice.

You figure it out!

But if you are only thinking in terms of actions – then what happens when the one idea you had of something to do doesn’t work out? Well, what else is there to do, but quit?

Having a strategy may help you think of other things to do, but how do you evaluate which are the right things to do and when is the right time to do them, if you don’t know what you want!?!

Or as one gentlemen said to me in a workshop years ago – if I don’t know where I’m going, how will I know when I don’t get there?

If you still aren’t sure whether you’re thinking in terms of goals, actions or strategies – share them below and I’ll be happy to help you figure it out!

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S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Step 5: Implement the Plan

Artists MBA, Professional ProgramGET INTO ACTION – Finally

So, you’ve explored your starting point, created your vision of the ending point, explored all the ways to get there and created a plan. And now, finally, it’s time to put that plan into action!

In Step 5 of the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Roadmap to Success, you implement the plan that came out of all the groundwork you laid in Steps 1-4.

In this class, we’ll explore:

  • How to build this into your already hectic life
  • How to handle all the “What If” fears that stop you from starting
  • How to create steady sustainable momentum with your plan

Thinking, wishing, dreaming, planning is all well and good, but you’ll never achieve your goal until you get into action. Ready? Set? GO!

Additional Resources for this Class:

Prerequisite Class:

Listen to the Class:

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S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Step 3: Expand What’s Possible

Artists MBA, Professional ProgramStep 3 of the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Roadmap to Success method for achieving your goals is “Explore all the ways to get there.”  Most people, when they Set a Goal, jump right into action doing all the things they know to do in order to achieve that goal.

The problem is that they don’t know what they don’t know.

As a result, one of two things generally happens – you either get to a certain level of success and then get stuck there.  Or, you hit an obstacle and quit – because you don’t know that there are ways around that obstacle.  Does this sound familiar?

Step 3 is about expanding what’s possible.  It’s about discovering what you don’t know, and figuring out how to learn what you need to achieve your goal.

You’ll learn:

  • How to Brainstorm – to access you’re own inner knowledge and creativity
  • How to Research – what are the right questions?
  • How to tap your resources to learn what they know
  • How to use this information to help with Step 4 – Create the Plan

Attaining a goal is always a learning and growth process.  In order to reach the next level of success, you must Expand What’s Possible.

Additional Resources for this Class:

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S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Step 1: Starting Point Assessment – Where Are You NOW?

Artists MBA, Professional ProgramOnce they’ve set a goal, most people make the mistake of jumping right into action doing the stuff they think they should.  But how can you successfully plan for a journey without knowing where you’re starting from?

In any journey from Point A to Point B – identifying Point A (your starting point) will enable you to chart the quickest, easiest and most likely path to success.

Most people don’t want to “waste time” evaluating where they ARE and what they’ve ACCOMPLISHED.  They want to focus all their energy on where they aren’t and what they don’t yet have!

This is a huge error from both a tactical standpoint and from a Law of Attraction standpoint.  Because remember, what you focus on expands.  If you are focusing on lack, you will soon lack more.

The Starting Point assessment is the 1st Step in the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Roadmap to Success.  In this class, you will discover:

  • Why you MUST start from the starting point
  • How to assess your starting point in a useful way
  • Several useful tips to start assessing your starting point

When my private clients take these actions in pursuit of their goals they always feel more powerful and able to pursue their goals.  This is a surprisingly empowering process.

Additional Resources for this Class:

Prerequisite Class:

Listen to the Class:

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Enroll in the Artists Marketing & Business Academy Foundation Program
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